Author(s): Saskia Van Vuren; Marit Zethof
Keywords: Drought; Water shortage; Freshwater management; Climate change; Uncertainty; Risk management
Abstract: Freshwater supply is of paramount importance to deltas everywhere around the world and is of substantial economic interest as well. Situations with water shortages, in which damage incurred owing to insufficient water, occur on regular basis. Water shortages will be more prevalent in future due to climate change, and resulting damage will increase due to the fact that droughts will become more severe and persistent and due to social-economic developments. In other words: the‘drought risk’, defined as the product of the probability of a drought event happening multiplied by the consequences of the drought event, is increasing. Present-day decision-making processes in freshwater management are still very much based on deterministic considerations. There is a strong wish to make uncertainty and risks involved in freshwater management practice more explicit. This paper introduces an approach to help quantifying drought-related risks by considering jointly the probability of drought-related hazard events and the consequences of these hazard events. The potential of this risk-based approach is illustrated with a case study in the Netherlands, namely the Rhine-Meuse Estuary where water deficits frequently occur due to the joint occurrence of low river discharges and severe salt water intrusion.